Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thinking About Schools: An Open Letter to State Legislators Everywhere

Thinking About Schools: An Open Letter to State Legislators Everywhere:

An Open Letter to State Legislators Everywhere

Public education is the only form of education where every principle and practice of democracy is enacted by local citizens. 
Public education is the only form of education that does not exclude children for any reason.
  • Please support the mission, intention, and benefit of public education! (I can't believe I actually have to write that sentence in 2014).
  • Please invest funds in public education that support the level and quality of education the State and our citizens demand. Spending costs out of our control have increased well beyond revenue to achieve those ends.
  • Please spend public funds where public funds should be spent and not divert those funds to those schools which do not include all children and schools that do not face the same and regulations and expectations of the public schools.

Private schools, parochial schools, and charter schools have their place in our American society; however, they are not all accessible to every child, they exclude children who do not behave or fit their niche; and they do not operate with the same restrictive regulations, underfunded mandates, unfunded mandates, and State laws that you have enacted in recent years. 
So, how does one justify their receipt of public funds under the conditions by which these schools are governed and operated. Furthermore, how does one rationalize providing these exclusive schools with funds that reduce funding for our all-inclusive public schools? 

You wouldn't allow a tax credit for the country club member who doesn't use the public pool (I hope). You wouldn't allow tax dollars for snow removal and street maintenance of private gated communities (I hope).  A pretty simple analogy but it is as simple as that.

Schools with means are being squeezed by understandable pleas to reduce local taxes; states that withhold funds in the form of IOUs; and ignored unfunded, underfunded, and unnecessary mandates - while students, parents, and innovative educators seek state of the art teaching and programs! Imagine what you've done to those withoutmeans. 
  • Stop diverting funds from the last bastion of true democracy and common space in our nation.
  • Stop manipulating voting rights so the underserved lose their voice.
  • Stop selling out to privatizers and contracted business models of McSchools with McTeachers.
  • Stop rationalizing that regimented students in segregated programs is the new civil rights
  • Stop the takeover of local and State Boards of Education with special economic and ideological interests. 

Since 1954, your predecessors fought hard to make schools accessible to and inclusive of all students, not some.  You are on a trajectory to a pre-Brown, pre-Title IX, pre-IDEA, pre-Plyler v. Doe era. 
Please - go back and read the Constitution (U.S. and State) whose principles you swore to uphold for every citizen.  Go back to high school English and your thoughts on "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Be courageous and lead for all children, not the segregated re-isolation of some which allows some to be less equal than others.
Be courageous and lead for all children, not enacting laws which allows some to be more equal than others. 
Be courageous.  Rise above the culture of testing, gotcha accountability laws, and micromanaged curriculum; and resist special interests.
Let leaders lead and teachers teach.